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The Magic Cafe Forum Index » » Finger/stage manipulation » » A Review of John Fisher's Cardini: The Suave Deceiver (0 Likes) Printer Friendly Version

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When I first became a serious student of magic, I learned about Cardini the same way John Fisher did--from Milbourne Christopher's book Panorama of Magic. This was not a book of tricks. It was a book on the history of magic and I found it at the public library.

My next significant encounter with Cardini was in the pages of the Oursler/Mussey translation of Ottokar Fischer's Illustrated Magic. The brief description of the act was tantalizing, and the section on Cardini ends with the statement: "Cardini is a gifted entertainer, who has followed the injunction of Shakespeare: 'If this is magic, let it be an art.'" The picture of Cardini in Illustrated Magic, though, showed a clean-shaven gentleman who didn't look quite like the suave deceiver in Christopher's book. Thanks to John Fisher's book, I now know all about the history of Cardini's moustache.

I began to search the public library for everything I could learn about Cardini. (At that time I had not discovered magic shops). Will Dexter's Everybody's Book of Magic provided additional corroborating testimony that "Cardini was perfection."

Even after I discovered magic shops, books like Ganson's Routined Manipulations series provided only limited insights into the Cardini touch. How I would have loved to have had in my formative years a detailed biography of Cardini. If you've read Denny Haney's review in his newsletter to regular customers, you know that although the book is technically a biography, it is also a professional level textbook that could help you to raise the level of your magic to an art.

Cardini: The Suave Deceiver is everything I hoped it would be and more. The detailed description of both the televised version of his act and the version in vaudeville and nightclubs was a welcome addition to my knowedge of Cardini lore. The wealth of pictures of Cardini, his friends, and imitators is astounding. It was a thrill to discover what kinds of tricks and routines Cardini performed before, during, and after the height of his fame, as well as which things were discarded as he perfected his craft and which tricks were added as his performing venue changed with the years. A genuine surprise was learning which magicians he admired in his later years. Some we would would all agree with. One in particular, no doubt, will surprise you.

I had read in books years ago that Cardini had worked as a demonstrator at Gamages. I was always surprised by that. As a former magic shop demonstrator myself, these words in Fisher's book struck a nostalgic chord: "(The) role of the demonstrator has always proved a good training ground for a magician." Commenting about Cardini and Harbin's tenures as demonstrators, Fisher goes on to say, "There is a subtle irony to the fact that the relentless demonstration to a constant stream of essentially amateur and novice conjurors contributed to the eventual polish of two supreme professional wizards."

Getting back to Denny's review. Denny wonders whether the young people getting started in magic today will be able to benefit from this book. He points to the price as being prohibitive. Unfortunately, it is doubtful that any copies will make it into any public library or public bookstore. We all know the story of how finding a copy of Robert-Houdin's Memoirs was the catalyst in the life of Erich Weiss. Imagine the kind of catalyst that Cardini: The Suave Deceiver could be in the life of future prestidigitators! If you're a young magician who can't afford the book, maybe you and a friend can go halves on it. It is worth a studied reading at any price.

----- Amado "Sonny" Narvaez
----- Sonny Narvaez
The Magic Cafe Forum Index » » Finger/stage manipulation » » A Review of John Fisher's Cardini: The Suave Deceiver (0 Likes)
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